160 pages, Col illus, tabs, figs
This book is designed to be an easy-to-use manual that enables malacologists and shell collectors to identify cowries using shell characters only. Shell characters of 268 cowry taxa, which have been described as extant species, are compared. A criterion is established and all the 268 taxa are critically examined according to this criterion: each cowry species must be distinguishable from other species of Cypraeidae by at least one well-recognizable shell character - Main Diagnostic Shell Character (MDSC) - that shows no intermediate stages. Following the above criterion it is possible to diagnose 211 cowry species, 14 subspecies and 19 synonyms. To allow easy comparison, colour illustrations and the main diagnostic characters for shells of the defineable taxa that are similar to each other are given on the same page. Additional information which may provide extra clues for distinguishing between species of similar appearence includes: notes to supplement the main diagnostic characters; discussion of several groups of cowry taxa, which are especially difficult to tell apart; a list of genera in Cypraeidae and the distribution range of taxa with similar shells.
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